The Postcard Killers - Liza Marklund & James Patterson
Released August 2010
It's been a few years since I've read any of James Patterson's novels. I grew tired of the "voice" behind the novels to be different than his original novels. The lacked the same level of suspense and emotion that I'd come to expect. My understanding is that he creates the outline, the co-author does the work, and the he reads it over and suggests changes--you can read about it by clicking here. With that, The Postcard Killers had a storyline I thought might change my mind.
I don't want to give away spoilers, but some aspects of the story occur later in the book. If you are anti any revelation of what happens in the second half of the book, stop reading. I don't reveal any huge surprises, but readers should take note that I do discuss more than the first few chapters.
The opening of The Postcard Killers certainly delivers a powerful punch. A sadistic couple are traveling through Europe, befriending newlyweds and other young couples, taking them back to their rental or hotel room and killing them. Once dead, the couple poses the dead to represent famous works of art, takes pictures and sends the pictures and postcards containing a cryptic message to local media. NYPD Jacob Kanon's daughter is one of the many this couple murdered and he won't rest until they've been caught.
I wanted to love The Postcard Killers, yet as the story ambled on, I grew less interested and plain annoyed. Maybe it's me, but the European police seemed completely inept. They have the killers in custody. The killer asks if they watched security footage after the killers leave. The police suddenly realize they never bothered and suddenly trip over each others to go back and watch all the footage. Based on that alone, they suddenly decide the killers are innocent because they're seen saying goodbye to the murder victims and another person is seen entering and exiting the room later. First, the part where they say goodbye--like that couldn't be faked? How easy would it have been for the killers to kill the victims, say goodbye, change clothing, put on a wig and return later to create their alibi. I was shocked the police fell for that ruse so easily. If it wasn't for Jacob and journalist Dessie, the case would have ended and killings would have continued. I really can't swallow that police in Stockholm are that clueless. From that point on, I couldn't take them seriously.
Dessie and Jacob have a relationship in the novel. Again, I found it hard to buy. Dessie starts the story as a lesbian and in the blink of an eye is straight and falling head over heels for Jacob. Little hard to swallow. I didn't get why it needed to be thrown in that she was freshly out of a lesbian relationship if she was going to be straight for the majority of the novel. Jacob's no better. He mourns his daughter and continually contemplates suicide. The number of times it's brought up that his hygiene sucks and that he "stinks" makes it obvious he cares about nothing other than the killers. Entering into a relationship, given the number of times his foul body odor is brought to the reader's attention, made little sense.
In the end, I'd love to say The Postcard Killers is a great novel, but it really isn't. Patterson's co-author, Liza Marklund, is apparently a bestselling author. Her skill with words is apparent. I easily visualized the setting and characters with incredible ease. However, I do think I'd prefer to read her work without any other author's influence shaping her storytelling. It's not the worst book I've ever read but certainly not something I'd pay full hardcover price for. If you borrow it at the library or get it on sale, it's worth reading. Otherwise, I'd definitely save my money.